Say Hello to our New Educators

By March 8, 2024March 18th, 2024Blog, In the City, The Power of Cooking

The Sylvia Center is so excited to introduce EIGHT new members to our team of Chef Educators and Assistants, located across NYC, Columbia County, and the Capital District. Our reach has grown by 30% in the past year, proving the undeniable demand for our impactful programming. Our programs regularly receive rave reviews, with 80% of participants reporting that they eat more fruits and veggies than previously, and 93% looking forward to taking our classes again. We’re incredibly grateful for our diverse group of Educators who bring their unique talents to our nutrition-focused courses. Together, we’re empowering youth, teens, and families with invaluable life skills through the power of cooking.


NYC Chef Educator Gabriel Chirinos 

“Hi! My name is Gabriel Chirinos. I’m 23, and culinary and pastry arts consume my whole life in the best way! My dog’s name is Biscotti (he’s a dachshund, long, white and brown, just like the cookie). I cook and bake almost everyday, and love developing recipes from different cultures and honoring different dietary restrictions. I also worked on a sustainable farm for a year. I’m classically trained in three instruments (piano, flute, and viola), and love classical music and more recently, country music too!” Welcome, Gabriel! 


NYC Chef Educator Rebecca Kong

Rebecca is an NYC-based private chef specializing in American cuisine with seasonal ingredients. Chef Becca takes the impact of good nutrition on our daily lives seriously, and is always working to educate her clients and those around her on the psychological and physical benefits of a healthy diet. She’s worked in award-winning NYC restaurants and is a graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) where she won the Top Toque award for excellence. Welcome, Rebecca! 


NYC Chef Assistant Chidinma Diké 

“My name is Chidinma Dikè. Some people call me Chichi. As of right now, I’m a student at Manhattan College studying to be an electrical engineer. I wanted to join the TSC team because cooking is a hobby I like to do during my free time. My favorite food to eat and make is Nigerian jollof rice. I am a 2019 graduate of the Bronx Teen Culinary Apprenticeship, and am very excited to join the TSC family. Thank you for this opportunity!” Welcome, Chidinma!


NYC Chef Assistant Mitchelle Diké 

“I’m the middle child. I was the youngest for about 8 years but that changed 11 years ago. I used to play varsity basketball for 4 years of high school, so I was pretty active, but now I’m in college and I have to find other ways to stay active. For my first semester of college, I didn’t do anything and I felt horrible, so being active is officially part of my life now! I’m studying business marketing at Brooklyn College and the most exciting thing I do now is take public transportation more often than I used to. Hope to see you guys in person soon and get to know y’all.” Welcome, Mitchelle!


Upstate Chef Educator Sophie Lipitz 

Sophie is a private chef and founder of the Milkweed Foundation, a not-for-profit based in the Hudson Valley, formed with the intent to educate on the use of alternative medicines and administer community care. Sophie grew up on a farm and her farm-based education inspired her to become a culinary professional. She is passionate about food education and culinary arts, and is an experienced youth educator teaching survival skills and metalsmithing in previous positions. She is located in Chatham, NY, very close to Katchkie farm. We are so excited to have her warm spirit and creativity spread to the youth we work with. Welcome, Sophie! 


Upstate Chef Educator Andrea Lubrano

Andrea is the owner of Gut Feeling Consulting, a dynamic and innovative holistic nutrition consulting company. Her mission is to educate clients on the pivotal role of gut health and empower them to navigate their overall well-being through motivational interviewing and evidence-based studies. She has an extensive background working as a chef, educator, and recipe developer. She is fluent in Spanish and resides in Rhinebeck, NY. Andrea has always attended TSC events with her family and we are thrilled to have her on staff. Welcome, Andrea! 


Upstate Chef Assistant Axton Nack

Axton is a senior at Ichabod Crane High School where he is on high honor roll, while also in his second year at QuestStar/Donald R Kline Technical School for Culinary Arts. Axton has been accepted to both the Culinary Institute and Johnson and Wales for their culinary programs for Fall 2024 and plans to pursue a culinary career. In addition to his new position with TSC, he also works at a local restaurant in Valatie three days a week and regularly volunteers. Welcome, Axton! 


Upstate Chef Assistant Kristen Parker 

Kristen is in her last year at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY, and is pursuing a Master’s of Nutrition and Dietetics and a career as a registered dietitian. Kristen comes to use with experience as a substitute teacher and has even lived in Italy for three months working as an au pair. She is no stranger to TSC, as she spent time last summer assisting us upstate with our farm programs. Kristen is very interested in working in community nutrition when she graduates so TSC is the perfect fit. Welcome, Kristen!